Students have been in school for slightly more than a month, yet most of us probably already know someone - or even are someone - who has caught a nagging cold that has been going around.
The opening of the school year is notorious for serving as a catalyst for the spread of contagious seasonal colds and flu. Temperatures begin to drop and children gather together in the classrooms, creating the perfect environment for these pesky germs to spread.
The typical influenza usually claims around 36,000 lives each year in the United States, with a vast majority of its victims being age 65 and older. While the elderly are the most susceptible to the flu's potentially fatal punch, children have been pegged as its primary spreaders. Children, too, can die from the regular flu, and each year, between 80 and 100 kids are claimed by the disease.
Vaccinations for the regular season flu are available now, and health officials are urging citizens to go ahead and get their flu shots.
The recommendation is particularly aimed at those who are most vulnerable to the flu's dangers. Those who should always get a flu shot include senior citizens, children, pregnant women, people of any age with chronic health problems like asthma or heart disease, health care workers and caregivers of those in the high-risk category.
Old-school medical theory was that immunity from the flu shot would only last six months, so people often times delayed getting vaccinated.
Newer studies, however, indicate the influenza vaccinations remain effective for a year, meaning an early flu shot is preferable.
Last year's flu season started approximately four weeks early and resulted in higher flu-related hospitalizations and deaths than normal.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that deaths attributed to pneumonia or influenza last year were the highest in nearly a decade.
With that said, we urge everyone of all ages to get their flu shots as soon as possible. It is better to be safe than sorry.